Participant Reviews of Carolyn of ExperienceOlympic Guided Tours

Four participants at Cape Flattery with the rocky Olympic Peninsula shoreline in the background

ExperienceOlympic's Excellent Tour Reviews

Carolyn of ExperienceOlympic guided tours takes the time to both plan and follow-up on our small, customized, and unique guided tours.  We feel that your voice in important at all stages in the process and are always looking for ways to improve your Olympic experiences.  We can't thank our participants enough for taking the time to write about their experiences, share photos, stay in touch, and offer up the knowledge earned from being a lifelong learners and explorers. 

You can also read additional ExperienceOlympic Guided Tour reviews, view more photos, and see what has earned us Certificates of Excellence for 2015 and 2016 on TripAdvisor.

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Participants photographing Big Leaf Maple trees on the Hall of Mosses trail in the Hoh Rainforest

A Magical Tour of the Olympic Peninsula, by John

We, four Brit “seniors”, wanted to see what the Olympic Peninsula had to offer covering our interests in wildlife, walking, mountain scenery and culture. Research led us to Experience Olympic and probably like you to investigating their reviews. Could what we read really be so positive – surely over 100 reviews couldn’t be wrong?

So we contacted Carolyn with an outline of what we would like to see in a 6 day exploration in late September and early October 2016 and from her first reply we sensed that we were in good hands.

Close up of Two River Otters who had just emerged from the surf at Rialto Beach

Carolyn sent comprehensive details of her suggested 6 day itinerary and it was reassuring to note that she added the rider that this was a flexible plan subject to change due to weather and tidal conditions which reflects her meticulous planning throughout.

Carolyn explained that we could get from Seattle to our AirBnB in Port Angeles without hiring a car by using the Dungeness Line bus (free water, cookies and inclusive ferry ride) from Seattle airport (SEATAC) and she would meet us at the bus terminal in Port Angeles to take us to our accommodation which she duly did in her spacious and comfortable vehicle.

Participants looking towards the subalpine firs and mountains in a sea of low shrub huckleberry that has turned red

Picked up early each day we were taken to an organic store to choose our lunch from a huge variety suitable for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. Carolyn provided each of us with a pair of binoculars and she had a range of equipment which we could borrow including walking poles and if necessary various items of outdoor clothing.

Our itinerary included Hurricane Ridge walks, visiting the Hoh Rain Forest (don’t miss it!), rock-pooling on Rialto Beach, an opportunity to explore the Elwha River Project, a very interesting and educational visit to the Makah Tribal Museum, visiting Neah Bay, exploring  Sol Duc Falls and a chance to visit the most north-westerly point of mainland United States at Cape Flattery.

Closeup of a Western Redback Salamander in the palms of a participant's hand

We saw a great variety of wildlife due in no small part to Carolyn’s spotting skills and her local knowledge of the best sites to visit.

Carolyn has a great understanding of the area and her thorough knowledge of the flora and fauna made for a quite exceptional trip.

We were lucky both with the weather and finding Experience Olympic and perhaps you might not be so lucky with the weather but rest assured that Carolyn will take great care of you and provide an itinerary which will bring long-lasting memories.

Naturally, Carolyn took us back to our bus in Port Angeles for our return to Seattle to continue our holiday from there.

Thank you Carolyn.

A couple smiles into the sun at Hurricane Ridge with snow ladden conifer trees and blue sky in the background

Majestic Winter 3 Parks Tour, by Maria and Brian

We strongly recommend visiting Olympic National Park in the winter!  You will have the opportunity to see the beauty of nature covered in snow! Carolyn of ExperienceOlympic Guided Tours made this wonderful experience possible for us during the Winter of 2015.

As part of our 3-Parks tour, Carolyn first showed us the Olympic mountains and we went snowshoeing at Hurricane Ridge.  The winter scenery was amazing, and snowshoeing with Carolyn was great fun! The road to Hurricane Ridge is usually cleared of snow between Christmas and New Years, and we lucked out with fresh snow that coated the trees.

A woman hugs an old-growth Western Red Cedar tree that significantly larger than her armspan

Carolyn is very knowledgeable and passionate about nature, and Olympic National Park varied ecosystems. Whether for animals, plants, or geological phenomena, Carolyn provided us with a wealth of information that made our experience unique. As part of our two days of tours, we experienced the Elwha River, Lake Crescent, and the stunning Strait of Juan de Fuca where we spotted a Bald Eagle!

Carolyn knows the most beautiful spots in the park, and all the history behind them. We strongly recommend Carolyn!  Her knowledge made us see the park in an in-depth and beautiful way.

A couple stands smiling on Hurricane Hill with the Olympic Mountains and a brightly colored yellow shrub in the background

Splendid Six Day Fall Tour by Jane, John and Allan

We are two seniors who were joined by our nephew for a splendid six day tour of Olympic National Park.  This magnificent experience took place in early October 2015 and was lead by Carolyn of ExperienceOlympic guided tours: intrepid and knowledgeable interpreter of the natural and historical aspects of Olympic National Park and surrounding areas.  Exhilarating mountain trails, enchanting rainforest and dramatic seascapes and tide pools were truly magical! 

A Gray Whale covered in barnacles is pictured surfacing and actively blowing water vapor out of its double blow holes

Hurricane Ridge enabled us views into the heart of Olympic National Park, including Mount Olympus on our first day.  Then we again took advantage of amazing fall weather on our second day on a Cape Flattery wildlife tour where we were watched a very cooperative Gray Whale feeding directly below us.  Near Cape Flattery, Hobuck Beach at low tide enabled us to view large basalt boulders encrusted in mussels and some tide pools with anemones.

One ExperienceOlympic participant looks up in wonder at all the moss hanging from the limbs of Big Leaf Maple trees

Since fall rain promises colorful mushrooms, luxurious moss, and banana slugs, we were content to spend our third day exploring both Madison Falls and Marymere Falls.  On our fourth day, we watched some Roosevelt Elk along the side of the road on a Hoh Rainforest elk and hiking tour.  As we were walking towards the Hoh Rainforest Hall of Mosses trail, two river otters swam under the small bridge where we were standing!

We then caught low tide at Ruby Beach and had the fortune of finding sea stars on an Olympic National Park beach tour.   We combined the Dungeness River with an Elwha River Restoration tour on the fifth day.  Lastly, on our sixth and final day, we visited the lovely Sol Duc Falls.

Closeup of a colorful purple shore crab in a rock crevice awaiting the return of the tide

We felt that our Olympic Peninsula six-day adventure was very well planned and we were left with a sense of all the major environments.  In a sense, our trip was a leap back to our childhood, with every day becoming an adventure for the senses.  Thank you Carolyn of ExperienceOlympic guided tours, for sharing your knowledge and passion for such a uniquely wild landscape. 

It’s Like Drinking Knowledge from a Fire Hose - Elwha River Hiking and Dam Removal Tour by J. Hanson

Enter Carolyn of ExperienceOlympic guided tours, cheerful naturalist with a seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of everything Olympic.  From geologic history to human history, flora, fauna, and hydrology to knapsack gourmet meal preparation, Carolyn’s enthusiasm is infectious. 

Three tour participants smile and pose in front of the Glines Canyon Gap in the former Mills reservoir lakebed on the Elwha River

On a recent trip to Seattle, my wife, son and I decided to escape the July 2015 heat for the magic and wonder of the Olympic Peninsula. We had just one day to explore the Elwha Valley.  We had researched the removal of the dams and the wanted see the river beginning its return to a wild state. 

We spent a delightful day seeing, touching , hearing and otherwise experiencing the Elwha River valley.  Carolyn accommodated our early start request, meeting us at our hotel at dark-thirty fresh bagels and an orientation talk along the way to the Glines Canyon.  We were provisioned with rain gear (an Olympic essential), trekking poles, high quality binoculars and water.

Indian Pipe grows in small clusters and both the stem and flower are pure white

Immediately on setting out, we quickly learned how to locate and identify birds by sight and by the sound of their calls.  We chanced upon Huckleberries, Salmonberries, and Thimbleberries, sampling each along the way. 

We beheld the weirdness of the Indian Pipe plant and savored the aroma of Vanilla Leaf.  She deconstructed the lowland forest for us tree by shrub by wildflower and introduced us to the “cutest” little banana slug, explaining its anatomy and reproductive behaviors and extolling the many virtues of slug slime.

An ExperienceOlympic participant cups a small yellow and black spotted banana slug in her hands

Next we ventured out onto the moonscape of the former lakebed that once filled Glines Canyon. Carolyn discussed some of the restoration efforts that are hastening the valley’s return to a more natural state as advanced toward the canyon’s exit at the site of the former dam. 

We stopped for lunch at a rushing waterfall on one of the Elwha tributaries. Carolyn freshly prepared a delicious lunch on the spot for our enjoyment, regaling us with explanations of how salmon find the fresh water of rivers and climb them to spawn.

An adult Bald Eagles soars over the Strait of Juan de Fuca, a beautiful contrast of black and white

Afterward we headed down to the mouth of the Elwha.  Carolyn set up and spun her trusting spotting scope to quickly pick up bald eagles, blue heron and kingfishers looking for meals.  Chinook salmon ‘porpoised’ in the water in front of us just beginning to gather for the earliest part of the run up the newly reclaimed river. 

Did I mention that I think she knows everybody?  Rangers, conservationists and fellow hikers all greeted Carolyn and our group with smiles and good wishes, sharing with us the latest updates, sightings and news from along the valley. 

The day was exhilarating.  I think it would have taken most of a week on our own to see and learn as much as we did in one day with Carolyn of ExperienceOlympic guided tours.  

Two birders smiling on Obstruction Point Road at Hurricane Ridge with snow-capped mountains towering in the background

Triumphant Two Fall Days of Olympic Peninsula Birding by Nancy and Elizabeth

We--Elizabeth and Nancy--two gals in our early 70’s, had a blast on a two-day birding adventure on the Olympic Peninsula with Carolyn, naturalist extraordinaire!  While our husbands were otherwise occupied fishing in early September 2014, Carolyn of ExperienceOlympic Guided Tours picked us up, provided delicious, healthful lunches and a spotting scope, and took us around the Olympic Peninsula, pointing out all matter of natural phenomena. 

Two male crossbills in transitional yellow and red plumage are captured on the beach outside of Neah Bay

We saw many, many birds and a few mammals we'd never before seen, including red crossbills and a gray whale. On the first day, we birded Hurricane Ridge’s Obstruction Point Road and Ediz Hook in Port Angeles.  On the second day, we went to Neah Bay's Cape Flattery, including many stops while traveling to and from Neah Bay.  In addition to gray whale, we also saw sea otter, harbor seals, and sea lions.  The weather was absolutely glorious. 

And we truly could not have asked for a more perfect guide/delightful person/young friend to take us all around.  Carolyn of ExperienceOlympic Guided Tours definitely pulled out all the stops.  We loved every single minute of our time with her.  She has a wealth of expertise and a warm, engaging personality.  In sum, she is awesome!

Two seniors hiking through a grove of Big-Leaf Maples laden with moss on the Hall of Mosses trail

Four Day Olympic National Park Summer Vacation by Shirley and Charles

As senior citizens who didn't want to drive, we were looking for a 4 day vacation in the Olympic National Park in July of 2014.  We considered going with a large tour company but fortunately we found the ExperienceOlympic website and chose a private guided tour with Carolyn.

We feel that our experience shows that you can have a great visit to Olympic National Park without renting a car if touring with ExperienceOlympic guided tours.  Carolyn picked us up in her van at our agreed time.  She supplied us with delicious and healthy lunches, with walking poles, excellent binoculars, and even brought a scope to better see distant objects.  We appreciated her vast knowledge of the flora and fauna wherever we went.  Most of all we were impressed with her caring and friendly demeanor.  She even snapped some great photos of us in the most beautiful settings on the Olympic Peninsula.

One participants stands smiling next to a huge piece of woody debris on the beach

On Day 1 we went tidepooling on the Salish Sea, enjoyed a scenic drive to Lake Crescent, and visited the historic Lake Crescent Lodge.  On Day 2, we enjoyed wildflowers and scenic beauty at Hurricane Ridge and strolled through a forest full of ancient trees.  On Day 3 we took the long drive to the Hoh Rainforest to enjoy the Hall of Mosses.  On Day 4, we toured around Port Angles proper to enjoy outdoor art, artifacts at the Lower Elwha Heritage Center, a native cedar longhouse, and tidepool animals at the Marine Life Center.  We also learned about the national marine sanctuary and looked for marine life at the end of Ediz Hook. 

Two participants sit smiling eating their lunch on a picnic table with the Olympic Mountains in the background

Carolyn helped us to find Rocket Transportation that picked us up at our hotel in Port Angeles and dropped us off at SeaTac airport.  We would advise other seniors to consider staying at the Red Lion for easier walking to a variety of downtown Port Angeles shops and restaurants. 

We have traveled with a private tour guide in the past but this was a far better experience.  Another great advantage was the flexibility to make changes in our itinerary.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable vacation, far superior to going with a large group.  We would not hesitate to take another trip with our favorite guide, Carolyn of ExperienceOlympic.

Renee smiling and peering through sword ferns as tall as she is

Fall Elwha River hike by Renee Metcalf

On a September 2013 excursion to the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, I skipped out a bit early on the last day of a dance workshop to enjoy a guided hike before returning to Phoenix.  This is not a slight thing for a core dancer to miss any dance opportunities.  But I had promised myself that the next time I was on the Olympic Peninsula, I would explore Olympic National Park.

Researching briefly, I discovered the enormity of this place!  The literature promised well-marked trails but I've had experiences before with these so-called trails. And I thought about how easily I get lost.  And about how I didn’t want to be a snack for a bear or mountain lion.  So I searched and found an excellent guide:  Carolyn of ExperienceOlympic guided tours.

Renee's hand with purple nail polish above a mountain lion track in the newly deposited Elwha River sediment

For starters, Carolyn presents her hikers with chocolate sustenance and not just any chocolate, but lavender dark chocolate!  She also fixed me up with a great set of binoculars on a harness so they wouldn’t swing around and get in my way as we hiked.  Other tour gear included a fanny pack and water bottles, so I didn’t have to try to fit those things in my suitcase as well.

I know how to have fun at these dance workshops, but it left me more tired than I would admit.  Nevertheless, I was determined to go on my guided hike with ExperienceOlympic.  But when I am physically tired, I become awfully quiet.  Carolyn didn’t seem to mind that I wasn’t keeping up my end of the conversation.

Up-close shot of a Pacific Sideband Snail, held by Renee with her purple painted fingernails

We spent our day exploring a changing Elwha River and we had the glorious good luck and timing to see salmon spawning.  You might have seen this on TV, but it cannot replace seeing it firsthand for yourself!  Precariously, I perched on a log and dangled my hair into the refreshing water.

As we battled our way through ferns as tall as me, she pointed out things I might have missed otherwise:  native birds, a frog, and a friendly snail.  Do you believe that you can fall in love with a snail?  I did!  And yes, we spotted clearly defined mountain lion tracks!

Next, we enjoyed the delicious snacks that Carolyn thought to bring:  cheese curds, blueberries and olive-rosemary bread.

Carolyn of ExperienceOlympic guided tours is a pleasant and knowledgeable young woman whom I cannot recommend highly enough.  I plan to attend the dance workshop again next year and allot even more time for a great hike with her - maybe tidepool exploring?

Grandparent and two grandchildren walking gingerly on their first mussel bed

Olympic Tidepool Spring Tour by Cam and Lucia Dhogee

What do mid-sixties grandparents from Iowa know about tidepooling?  Not a thing.  But we weren't about to let that stop us from creating an amazing experience for our land-locked 12-year-old granddaughter and 9-year-old grandson.  Enter Carolyn of ExperienceOlympic guided tours, owner and tour guide extraordinaire.  

Carolyn rousted us out of our rooms early to catch a June 2013 low tide, outfitted us with really useful gear and drove us to the shoreline mussel beds.  What?  Mussel beds?  We don't have mussels bordering our farm ponds in Iowa.  "Walk like this and you won't fall or harm the mussels," she instructed and demonstrated. 

Giant Pacific Octopus as seen in aquarium because we were too stunned to get a photograph

And we were off on our fantastic adventure to see sea stars, chitons, crabs, kelp and an octopus.  Yes, a real live octopus sheltered in a nice big tidepool until the tide came back in.  Our grandkids spotted the octopus first and we had trouble believing them until we saw this amazing creature with our own eyes.  It actually came out into full view from its hiding place in a rocky crevice and changed color as it grabbed onto a rock.

Carolyn of ExperienceOlympic guided tours was patient and discreet in meeting the needs of the youngsters and the oldsters.  She chose the walking path carefully, guiding us through the smoothest, safest route and monitoring our strength and coordination.  All in all, our guided tour was a safe and exciting tidepool adventure for the slightly stiff grandparents and the luckily limber grandchildren.  Can't wait to have another multi-generational Olympic experience with Carolyn!  

Sunset as seen on Hurricane Ridge with the Strait of Juan de Fuca in the background

Twilight Hurricane Ridge Hike by N. Noell

ExperienceOlympic tours is an absolutely fantastic guiding company for the Olympic National Park! Over Labor Day weekend 2013, I had an itching to get out to Port Angeles for a weekend to experience the ecology of the Olympic Peninsula -- and with Carolyn of ExperienceOlympic guided tours up to Hurricane Ridge, the trip was lively, informative, the snacks delicious, and of course, the sunset and wildflowers were breathtaking.

And the wildlife was very much out and about -- we saw 5 Black-tailed Deer, 3 Sooty Grouse, Olympic Marmot, and Red-tailed Hawks during the ~3 mile hike.  With Carolyn interpreting the landscape, I was able to look over the Elwha River watershed and learn about the restoration process -- from an ecologist who used to study mammals and amphibians in the Elwha watershed prior to the dam removal!

Close-up at dusk of a Sooty Grouse as seen while hiking

Carolyn's background is as an ecologist and an environmental educator, and hiking with her is a joy -- she gives you the depth of her knowledge of the Olympics in a compelling and accessible manner. And she is so quick with the spotting scope to ensure that a bird or raptor does not go missed.  I'll be timing my next trip to Olympic National Park to happen when raptors are migrating through the area, and contacting Carolyn -- she has even worked on a raptor survey project in Utah!

Exploring a new environment is definitely a richer and more rewarding experience when travelling with an experienced local naturalist guide.  On your next trip to Olympic National Park, I highly recommend Carolyn at ExperienceOlympic.

Partial shot of hiker viewing a distant but very large Black Bear in a meadow with binoculars

Spring Elwha River hike by A. Clark

Carolyn of ExperienceOlympic guided tours knows Olympic wildlife better than anyone I have ever met! When she said that we were going to hike in the Elwha Valley and see the spring black bears, I thought, "Yeah right, but the river is really pretty, so I might as well go." A couple of hours later, I'm sitting on a moss-covered rock with my binoculars glued to my face! She was more than right! Not only were there Black Bears, but I was watching them interact with the Roosevelt Elk in the same meadow. It was one of the most unforgettable wildlife viewing experiences in my life. Every time I hike with Carolyn, she brings the forest to life and I learn something new. She is able to see and explain things in ways that you will always remember. I wish that I could always hike with Carolyn!

Close-up of the upper half of a garter snake, with has reddish-brown stripe down its dorsal side

Elwha Hiking and Dam Removal Tours by M. Ortega-Welch

Carolyn of ExperienceOlympic led a guided tour of the Elwha River, which turned out to be one of my best afternoons in the Olympics! We started with coffee and pastries from a local bakery and then drove out to the mouth of the Elwha River. With her spotting scope and excellent teaching skills, Carolyn of ExperienceOlympic guided tours pointed out Common Loons, Marbled Murrelets (an endangered species!), and Harbor Seals out in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. She really helped me develop my birding and wildlife viewing skills. As we hiked along the trail, she pointed out River Otter scat and native plants. We sampled six different kinds of wild berries! When a Garter Snake slithered across the trail, she deftly picked it up so we could have a closer inspection. I felt like I was on a Wild America episode with Marty Stouffer! Our day ended taking in the view of the historic Elwha dam removal. All that and she even got me back to my bus on time. Thanks, Carolyn, for a great outdoor adventure!

Close-up of a bright orange Blood Star on pebbles

Pacific Northwest Tide Pool tour by E. Newman

I had an amazing day outdoors with Carolyn of ExperienceOlympic guided tours exploring the tidepools. I learned so much about the tides and all the little creatures that live in and around the water. Carolyn of ExperienceOlympic is an excellent guide, setting a comfortable pace, highlighting things we would have otherwise passed by, and sharing freely her expertise. It was impossible not to get caught up in her excitement of finding some rare algae or a beautiful sea star. 

An ExperienceOlympic guided tour with Carolyn was like spending the day with a friend - a fun, informative, and accommodating friend who was in on the local knowledge and hidden gems.

Three birders looking through binoculars from Carolyn of ExperienceOlympic guided tour

Introduction to Bird Watching by R. Thurman

I have always been interested in birds but didn’t have any idea on how to get started, what to look for, or where to go. Carolyn of ExperienceOlympic guided tours really gave me a push on how to get started and confirmed my suspicions that watching birds is way cool. I learned that it is also really easy and is something you can do without having to be a hardy hiker.

First, Carolyn has great equipment to make birding easy. I had been afraid that I wouldn’t be able to see the birds very well but we were well trained us how to use the binoculars and she described how to look for the birds. Her spotting scope made it possible for us to watch some birds for several minutes and we were treated with watching mergansers mate in the water, an unforgettable experience.

Close-up shot of a female merganser on the water

Second, Carolyn had an app that allowed her to find a bird in seconds to confirm the bird that we saw, hear the call and learn a few fun facts. With Carolyn’s vast knowledge of birds it made it possible to identify a number of birds in the wetlands that surrounded us. Prior to this I had tried to look up birds in a book but it took forever and you would lose the bird you were looking at.

Taking this guided tour has changed the way that I look at birds and has enhanced my outdoor experiences. I now watch birds everywhere. I watch out of my windows at home, while in the park, and when we get the chance to walk in the woods. I am now more aware of what to look for and to appreciate what I am seeing. I hope to sign up for another experience with Carolyn.

Female Green-crowned Brilliant Hummingbird perched with its tongue sticking out

International tour by C. Kildare

My trip to Costa Rica in 2006 with Carolyn, when she was a teacher at Meadowdale High School, was my first adventure outside of the United States. Initially I was very hesitant to go but by the end of the trip I did not want to leave. Carolyn’s excellent organization allowed me and the other students to have such an enjoyable trip. She not only encouraged us to immerse ourselves in the culture but also in Costa Rican wildlife. We went to local markets, took dance lessons, went bird watching, went to Spanish language school, and worked with locals to preserve the Leatherback Sea Turtle. I have traveled with other groups to other places but none as well organized and as exciting as my very first trip with Carolyn, who is now the owner of ExperienceOlympic guided tours. It was a trip of a lifetime and I will never forget it.

ExperienceOlympic Tours of Olympic National Park, Port Angeles WA 98362 has posted reviews and photos on our site with permission.